Sunday, June 28, 2009
At the National Championships, "Beijing to Berlin" this weekend, our Olympic Gold medallists proved that they were no flash-in-the-pan.
Usain Bolt waltzed away for the 100 and 200 metres. Asafa was not disgraced, running a good second in the 100-m.
Shelly-Ann Fraser shot out of the blocks and never looked back for the 100-m, and Veronica Campbell showed her grit and form in the 200m.
Melaine Walker thrilled in the 400-m hurdles and Isa Phillips won the 400-m men's hurdles with the best time for the year.
From Gleaner report - http://184.108.40.206/search?q=cache:yVzjwIjduKUJ:mobile.jamaicagleaner.com/20090629/sports/sports1.php+maurice+wignall+june+2009&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=jm&client=firefox-a
"In the one-lap events, Novlene Williams-Mills and Ricardo Chambers regained their titles. Williams-Mills crossed the finish line in 50.21. and Christine Day (41.54).
"On the men's side, Chambers won the final straight battle with Allodin Fothergill, 45.55 to 45.57. Lansford Spence was third in 45.78.
"In the women's 100m hurdles, Delloreen Ennis-London, winner of the bronze medal in Osaka, took victory in 12.79, equalling her season best.
"Brigitte Foster-Hylton was second in 12.87 while Lacena Golding-Clarke was third in 12.89.
"In the men's 110m hurdles, Maurice Wignall retuned to the winner's podium with a 13.48 victory. Dwight Thomas, who was neck and neck with Wignall, finished second in 13.50 while Olympic finalist Richard Phillips was third in 13.61.
"Kenia Sinclair ran 2:01.63 to take the women's 800m while Aldwyn Sappleton (1:48.20) edged out Ricardo Cunningham (1:48.21)."
We go to Berlin strong and ready. Hail our amazing athletes!!
Friday, June 26, 2009
Bolt is a fun-loving guy, but never disrespectful!
USAIN DID NOT DISS! Re media briefing in Ostrava, Czech Republic earlier this month, I have this straight from Bolt's manager Norman Peart – turns out the “speaker” that Usain was said to be “upstaging” was actually his interpreter! The briefing was held exclusively for Usain, who hammed it up while the interpreter told him what shots the photographers were requesting. Pass this on please!
In 1972 when I first heard the song "Ben", there was no doubt in my mind that the song would indeed make it to the top of the hit parade. Today, the song remains my favorite Michael Jackson's song.
Three years later Michael visited Jamaica as part of the family singing group known as the Jackson 5. One night during the family's visit to Jamaica, they dined at the Golden Dragon Restaurant which was located at Mona Plaza in Liguanea. Being a regular patron at the restaurant, I happened to stop by that night to place an order, not knowing that the family had been there dining.
No sooner than I entered the restaurant, a restaurant employee and next door neighbor who seemingly had struck up a good rapport with the Jackson family summoned me over to the lengthy table which was set up and specially configured for the family and their entourage. I had an opportunity to secure autographs from the family members, but regrettably I let the chance passed me by.
Michael subsequently grew into a superstar; and whatever the other Michael (Jordon) was to a basketball court, Michael was to a dancing floor. He made his moves looked so easy. However, his moves came with a non-communicated warning that any attempt by anyone to try any of those moves would be at one's own peril. His waist-slithering and foot-shuffling moves often leave his fans mesmerized.
Michael gave new meaning to the dance known as the moonwalk. In 1983, at the Motown 25th Anniversary Celebrations, he brought the house down with what many believe to be the performance of his life. The gloved one, appearing as to be defying gravity, danced his way off the stage much to the amazement of the audience. The performance earned him a phone call and commendation from Fred Astaire, considered in some circles to be the greatest dancer of all time.
Ironically, Michael often expressed during interviews that he never lived a normal childhood life, yet there can be no denying that during his childhood he filled the hearts of many especially that of his generation with joy.
Songs like, "ABC", "I'll Be There" and "Rockin' Robin" to name a few was very popular with Michael's generation.
As a fan of Michael I would like to wish his friends, fans, relatives and family my deepest sympathy. He may be gone, but just like him I "Never Can Say Good-bye".
Brooklyn, New York
Thursday, June 25, 2009
CLICK TITLE FOR LINK TO FULL BBC REPORTS ON MICHAEL JACKSON'S PASSING
Hundreds of people rushed to UCLA Medical Centre in Los Angeles as reports began emerging of the death of singing legend Michael Jackson.
Fans of all ages gathered at the hospital to show their support and await news of the 50-year-old entertainer.
Television vans converged on the centre, while news helicopters circled above. Police officers arrived to keep the growing crowds back.
Some of the fans were silent, while others climbed on fences to try to get a better view.
As Jackson's death was confirmed, many broke down in tears and embraced each other.
Monday, June 22, 2009
by Joyce Gladwell - From The Presbyterian Record (click on title for link) - Ontario
When Andrew Faiz (Pop Christianity, May 2008) mentioned “a powerful letter … which spoke of the loneliness and pain a homosexual person felt within the church,” he touched a nerve for me.
I first came alive to the reality of homosexuality in my early 50s. I was then back at university as a mature student preparing to be a marriage and family therapist. One of my courses was on human sexuality and the professor spared us little as he introduced us to the variety and complexity of human behaviour. He brought three lesbians to address the class with their personal stories, in particular how they came to realize their sexual identity. As I listened, I experienced a jolt of identification as I realized: these people can no more help who they are than I can change the colour of my skin.
As a “brown face” from
I was raised in the Anglican tradition with a thorough grounding in the scriptures that included writing exams on the Bible at the high school level. At university, I was influenced by the inter-varsity movement and learned to set high value on the teachings of scripture, to be wary of selecting the parts of scripture I agreed with while ignoring other parts, and I was discouraged from inventing fanciful notions of my own. Whatever I learned that was new and different had to be put to the test of the scriptures.
As I began to practice as a therapist and to hear more lesbian stories, I took time to reflect on what I was hearing in the light of what is recorded in the Bible concerning homosexuality.
In Leviticus 18:22, among the list of unlawful sexual relations is this: “Do not lie with a man as one lies with a woman: that is detestable.” In Romans 1:26 and following, Paul condemns homosexuality as shameful, unnatural, perverse and subject to God's punishment.
I took refuge in the gospels, where homosexuality is never named, and in Jesus' gracious words, his understanding of the human condition, and his heart for those least accepted in society. Still, Leviticus and Romans made me very uneasy.
As I entered into the lives of my lesbian sisters, I tried to imagine what it would be like to live often, if not always, with shame and guilt, to be denied a life partner, to have no hope of family life, to know that if I were found out I would be avoided socially, I might even lose my job. I considered Jesus' promise of abundant life, and the kingdom he came to establish. His mission, he said, was to bind up the brokenhearted, to release the prisoners, and let the oppressed go free.
Here were fellow believers in Christ's church, falling far short of abundant living, captive to the curse of their condition, oppressed by a rejecting society, and surely brokenhearted.
To me this was a contradiction in the life of the church. Even the scriptures seemed to be sending inconsistent messages. Then I read again the story of Peter's vision in the book of Acts. Peter, the observant Jew, is so hungry while he waits for a meal that he falls into a trance, and sees a vision. A repulsive bag of writhing, creeping creatures is let down in front of him three times, and he is ordered to “kill and eat.” Leviticus is Peter's rule book, and in chapter 11 he is instructed to detest certain sea creatures, birds and flying insects, and given a list of reptiles and animals which are unclean and must not be eaten. Therefore, Peter's response to the strange command in his vision is, “No, Lord, for I have never eaten anything that is impure or unclean.” To this the Lord replies: “What I have cleansed, do not call impure or unclean.”
The meaning of the vision becomes clear to Peter when he is called to travel to the home of a Roman soldier to share the gospel with his household. This would have been unthinkable for Peter before his vision, “for it is against our law for a Jew to associate with a Gentile, or to visit him.” In the vision “God has shown me,” says Peter, “that I should not call any man impure or unclean.”
The dividing line between Jew and Gentile was circumcision, the centuries-old mark of those who belonged to God. When Peter's peers, “the circumcised believers,” hear of his visit to Gentiles, they criticize him: “You went into the house of uncircumcised men, and ate with them!”
Reading this account again was a turning point for me. I see parallels between the unsettling issue of Jew and Gentile in Peter's day, and our struggle over homosexuality today. I read God's response to Peter's “no” and I take heart for God's timely resolution to our struggle. I see the dividing line between the churches open to blessing same-sex unions and the traditional church opposing them, and I long for God's releasing word: “What I have cleansed, do not call impure or unclean.” I long for justice for my gay brothers and sisters, for openness as we listen to one another, for fellowship where we are now divided. I read how Peter's peers dropped the barriers and brought their uncircumcised brothers into fellowship, and I see the possibility of the church today being reconciled and open to change.
Lord, we struggle in darkness,
give us light.
Show us where your truth
and mercy meet.
Release our captive brothers
Lift their oppression.
Remove our shortsightedness as
we read and interpret the scriptures.
Are we listening for God? In the noise of our debating, can we hear what God is saying?
Author Joyce Gladwell at the Counselling Centre named in her honour in Elmira, Canada. (Photo Hubie Chin)
JAMAICA OBSERVER COLUMN | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN
Monday, June 22, 2009
"We need to separate organised religion from our concept of God," says Jamaican-Canadian psychologist and author Joyce Gladwell. "Sometimes organised religion does not cooperate with God and can even work against God."
Who would believe that she was saying this in the rural town of Elmira, Canada, not knowing that miles away in her homeland, Jamaica, an internationally renowned evangelist had just been arrested for carnal abuse? As I read the report, I remembered Joyce's words on the trauma of child molestation: "We need greater awareness of the damage that early sexualisation and forced sexualisation can have on the development of the individual and the impact on their relationships in later life.
"I had a client as old as 60 still dealing with abuse from age seven," disclosed Joyce. "There was one instance of so-called 'mild' abuse in which a man exposed himself to a girl of 13 - this was a trusted friend of her family and this betrayal shook her world."
Joyce recalls gratefully her mother's extraordinary devotion to her children's upbringing and her father's loving guidance. She recommends that parents should be very watchful of their children, ensuring that they have a well-ordered life. She is concerned that Jamaican boys are not being raised to discipline themselves sexually, but are seeing masculinity being defined by the number of women they "have".
We decided to visit Joyce and her husband, retired mathematics professor Graham Gladwell, after hearing that she had been recognised for her community work by the Canadian government, and also that she had been honoured for her work in mental health by the local community where the counselling centre was named after her. I felt a bit like the pilgrim finally at the feet of the wise elder. But the serene counsellor offered no quick fix.
“You have to situate the therapy in the culture, and work to discover what is creating the background that breeds the dysfunction,” she offered. She said that when one views Jamaica in a historical and sociological context, one can understand the tremendous frustration of many Jamaicans who may have a strong work ethic but limited opportunities.
Joyce was born in Harewood, St Catherine over 75 years ago, the daughter of Donald Nation, a respected school principal and his wife Daisy. Her book “Brown Face, Big Master” describes the sheltered childhood of herself and twin sister Faith. Earlier this year I wrote about Faith Linton’s book, “What the Preacher Forgot to Tell Me” – both ladies are deeply spiritual but independent thinkers.
“Consciousness that God is in everyone and available to everyone is essential,” Joyce believes. “God the Creator, the Sustainer is present in every human being, however depraved. Our role in the human community is to recognise God in each person, and to call out each person to connect to God and find their true destiny in that connection.”
Then Joyce surprisingly stated that she does not believe that we should condemn and ostracise homosexuals. Indeed, she has written an opinion piece in the Presbyterian Record (http://www.presbyterianrecord.ca/2009/04/01/sharing-rejection/) in which she discusses God’s acceptance of all that He has cleansed. “I long for justice for my gay brothers and sisters, for openness as we listen to one another, for fellowship where we are now divided,” wrote Joyce.
Lunch with Joyce and her husband is delicious soup and salad made with vegetables grown in their backyard. “You’ve heard of the 100-mile diet,” twinkled Prof Graham. “Well, this is the 30-metre diet.” I nodded appreciatively as I enjoyed a freshly picked strawberry.
Then it was on to the Joyce Gladwell Building in the nearby town of Elmira where she was a widely respected family therapist. In the introduction to the second edition of her autobiography, Joyce explains, “At age 50 I returned to University. The boys [her three sons] had graduated from high school, and moved on to work and further study; I was free to focus elsewhere.” Joyce graduated with a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and eventually became director of the counselling centre that she had helped to establish.
Joyce and her sister Faith had been fortunate to become recipients of the first set of government scholarships to private high schools in the 1940s, and her description of a political debate at ‘St Hilary’s’ reveals an exciting time in Jamaica’s history.
“We were arguing about politics,” Joyce wrote in “Brown Face Big Master”, “and two of the leading parties in Jamaica were supported fiercely by rival groups in our form. For it was about 1945 and Jamaica had just achieved universal suffrage, full representation, and a measure of self-government… Now our attention was directed to our own country and we were actively taking part in the political life that was surging around us.”
The mistresses at ‘St Hilary’s’ were alarmed: “This response came almost entirely from our form …[with] a high proportion of girls on scholarships and others of wholly Jamaican background.” Joyce’s father Donald Nation had joined Norman Manley’s party and had been elected to the House of Representatives.
“My father did not allow us to speak or think carelessly,” said Joyce. “He held everything up to a high standard. He was no pushover.” This inspired his daughter to show her mettle wherever she went, writing letters to the editor of her local paper and challenging the mayor on an issue asking him, “How would you like to be remembered?” Joyce laughed heartily as she recalled that she later served on a Board with the said man, who found a convenient excuse not to sit beside her.
Recently, Macmillan Caribbean has re-published “Brown Face Big Master” as a Caribbean Classic, the first autobiography to be so named. Joyce Gladwell’s narrative traces the awakening of a beautiful Jamaican girl to knowledge and faith, conquering the demons of doubt and depression, and growing into a woman of fine intellect and deep humanity. Every Jamaican should read this book, for its history and its heart.
NB - Joyce Gladwell is the mother of the best-selling author and New Yorker writer Malcolm Gladwell - his works "The Tipping Point", "Blink" and "Outliers" are now world famous. The final chapter of "Outliers" - "A Jamaican Story" describes the brilliant career of his mother and her twin sister Faith Linton - they were the high-achieving "Nation twins".
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Audrey Marks - no shrinking violet!
JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Jamaica Observer column | 15 June 2009
Monday, June 15, 2009
One can never tire of telling Audrey Marks's story. Hers is that of a young Jamaican whose entrepreneurial spirit would not flag, even when challenged by the establishment. Marks is in fact the creator of the bill payment industry in Jamaica and the first online payment system of its kind in the world, founding the ubiquitous Paymaster in 1994, now emulated by several larger and older businesses.
Her early career saw her facing off with an establishment that may have been surprised at the fight in this rather dainty young woman. She worked at Air Jamaica for several years during which she gained a UWI degree in Management and later a Master's in Business Administration. With the tumultuous atmosphere at the airline in the early 90s, she decided it was time to move on. However, she felt the terms of separation were stacked against her. This was when Marks proved that she was no shrinking violet. In her 20s, she hired her first attorney and negotiated an amicable separation.
The Marymount High School graduate joined the former TOJ (Telecomunications of Jamaica). "At the time, there was a special share offer for employees. I examined the PE ratio and decided that this was a huge opportunity. I took out a loan and purchased a sizeable number of shares." In her calm, even voice, Audrey described a bull run on the market which more than tripled her investment value in a very short time. "I decided to cash out," she said, but was told she could not do so.
Audrey was determined and she recalls a senior manager asking her, "Why are you pursuing this? Don't you value your job security?" She was not in the least bit intimidated: "If I got the $4 million, I knew I could create my own security." She won the settlement, resigned and formed her own holding company, AP Marks & Associates, which invested in farming, transportation, real estate among other ventures, and Paymaster.
Marks's visit to a bill-payment facility in Florida in the early 90s led her to map out a template for Paymaster. Her analytical mind harked back to the planning meetings at TOJ when there were detailed 10-year business plans with huge capital outlay, but no thought given to better facilities for bill payment.
It took three years to develop and test the system, till finally the St Mary-born whiz had her big breakthrough, a contract with the JPS in 1997, heralding a burgeoning clientele. Paymaster now collects for 52 entities, serving 1.482 million Jamaicans and providing employment for over 400 people. "My business concept has been proved: it is best to outsource and concentrate on your core business."
Audrey believes that she is just one of many creative and talented Jamaicans, "but we have not created a framework in which our most valuable asset - our people - can thrive". The happily married mother of two has recently completed three busy years as president of Amcham, the American Chamber of Commerce of Jamaica. She embraces public service "because of Jamaica's tremendous potential". The respect she has gained over the years is reflected in the wide range of boards which she has served or currently serves, including TPDCo, which she chaired, PCJ, UWI, JTI, NHF and UDC.
Audrey says that with members in 166 countries, Amcham is the largest federated business organisation in the world. They have lobbied successfully in several areas, and assist in ensuring the smooth processing and conveyance of their members and visiting investors. "These things don't happen by chance," she comments. She gives kudos to executive director Becky Stockhausen and her successor Diana Stewart who worked tirelessly on outreach programmes, including the Amcham Peace Centre in Grants Pen.
In January this year, Audrey Marks, who dislikes travelling north in winter, went to witness with her daughter Morgan the inauguration of Barack Obama as the first bi-racial president of the USA. "I have never felt so cold, but so good," she recalls. "In our lifetime, we are seeing the barriers being slowly removed. It is a great thing for our children." For her, the presence of a stable black family in the White House "presents to the world the antithesis of how a black family had been viewed. The fact is, they are not unique."
Audrey is not deterred by the business climate. "The world goes through fat and lack and as long as you plant well, you can survive. In the past, Jamaica has not planted well, so we did not benefit in the time of fat and without the fundamentals in place, we cannot benefit from the opportunities that actually result from crises. This is the time to implement a fundamental policy shift - from holding to growing."
"There are two things holding us back," says the perceptive pioneer, "lack of education and lack of support for entrepreneurs. We cannot have businesses competing with government for capital. Between the cost of capital, the security both of ideas and people, we will become stuck in a rut if we do not have a long-term framework that supports both." She refers to our education system as "educational apartheid in which 80 per cent of our children who sit GSAT have no proper school to go into. Now, we are seeing the result in our crime rate, corruption and immorality. Our children are not understanding the importance of values and seeing opportunities for advancement."
Marks sees indications of a pro-business philosophy from the current administration and is calling for them to "put the philosophy into action, though I know they are fighting a lot of fires". She would like to see clear communication around the Young Entrepreneurs Programme (YEP) so that our school leavers can fully understand the process. This should involve mentoring by more experienced business people.
Audrey Marks believes that the meltdown of the 90s in which so many black entrepreneurs were labelled as failures, regrettably has intimidated our young business hopefuls. "We know there is nowhere in the world like Jamaica," says the patriotic innovator. "It is worth the sacrifice to mentor, support and celebrate each other."
Saturday, June 13, 2009
It was very powerful, the Congressman Gregory Meeks, who put on this for the community at the York College in the center of Jamaica and, C.Virgina Fields, the past candidate for president of the US was present, and she gave me a card because she is now the President/CEO of National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS, Inc.
Gregory Meeks gave a powerful speech and seem to understand the need of blacks in the community, by large New York City that we here having the highest affected HIVS, outdoing San Francisco, and other known areas around the US.
I was trying to get the statistics that was presented to us, but the goodly Blayne Cutler, MD., PhD director left the building but I was told to seek it through Meeks office. What I can recall, was that the numbers are very high and people are walking around with this deadly virus without knowledge and those that have it fail to tell.
They were saying that it is alarming and mad about African Americans are the highest at risk and new numbers are showing an everlasting disappointment.
Rev Al Sharpton, spoke about it on a taped video message to the group. Now this alarms me because there are many Americans traveling to the Caribbean and our people have subjected themselves to this virus, by offering themselves to the mercy of sex tourism and the government's health department might be aware of the staggering numbers or hiding the real facts to prevent fallout with that market.
They briefly spoke about the guns without getting off the subject that is killing our people, no different from what is going on in Jamaica.
The Moderator Jeff Johnson is well known and he did a great job providing us with graphic evidence and is passionate about is work, they had this guy, who became a Reverend when he got diagnosed with the virus 22 years ago, by giving blood, I meet him along with other panelists who have families with the virus. He looked so good.
Link sent by my friend Enez Perkins
Rosie DiManno | Toronto Star |12 June 09
The joke in Beijing was that Usain Bolt is so laid back it would take him two hours to watch 60 Minutes.
He's on Jamaican time – metaphysically mellow, unhurried; as cool as a long swig on a frost-beaded bottle of Red Stripe.
Except when he runs.
Then he's a blur, all piston-knees and pumping elbows and forward-propelling torque, atypically tall and lean rather than stubby and muscle-bound (if suddenly broader across the shoulders), the traditional prototype for short track specialists.
On the track, Bolt flies, that incredible wingspan tucked in close to his ribs, one foot leaving the ground seemingly before the other has landed, a marvel of human kinesiology.
Click on title to see video and read full story.
Monday, June 8, 2009
For our school: Bruce Golding and Ronnie Thwaites are all smiles after a presentation from Phillip Wong (right) of the STGC Old Boys of Florida. – Carl Chang photo
BY JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Jamaica Observer | Monday, June 08, 2009
We raced down the hospital corridors behind two nurses - one carrying the precious bundle of our very ill infant relative, the other carrying her oxygen tank. The doctors received her and started their work in intensive care, while we prayed fervently.
I sensed that angst as we discussed "Jamaica Then and Now" at the recent Alpha-St George's 50-year reunion.
Politics was parked at the door as fellow panellists Prime Minister and JLP President Bruce Golding, PNP MP Ronnie Thwaites, UWI professors Patricia Anderson and Trevor Munroe and the other alumni in the room, expressed concern but hope for our beloved Jamaica.
(please click on title above for link to full column)
Monday, June 1, 2009
Munair Zacca's Tribute to Stafford Ashani, St. Mark's Methodist Church, Harbour View, Friday, May 29, 2009
A TRIBUTE TO STAFFORD
I knew Stafford for almost 40 years. I first met him when he and I, along with Valerie Bloomfield, were cast in a play called A LIBERATED WOMAN written by Barry Reckord and produced by Lloyd Reckord. This was around 1971 and Stafford was still a student at Excelsior High School at the time and Victor his father actually reminded me that Stafford had to get permission from the school to be in the production, especially since the play was of a somewhat "adult" nature.
To this day I still have a distinct memory of Stafford rehearsing the play in his khaki uniform, and me thinking, "Gosh, this guy is so mature for his age!" Not only was he mature, but he was doing a fantastic job with his role, so I had no choice but to really keep on my toes, otherwise this guy was going to act me off the stage, especially since his role was more of a likeable character--sort of very lighthearted and highly spirited.
Anyway, whatever conflict developed between us was strictly in the play because offstage we became the best of friends, and eventually went on to work on several productions together after that for many many years. This play was not only the start of his whole theatrical career, but it also afforded him an opportunity to visit New York, and he later admitted to me that that trip was instrumental in him deciding that New York was definitely the place for him, and he was determined to go back and study there. Well, it didn't happen right away but much later on in his career he did go off to college there, where he studied Film and after graduating, he worked there for awhile in said field. And it was out of that experience that his television series REGGAE STRONG emerged.
But getting back to the beginning, shortly after Stafford and I had been in A LIBERATED WOMAN, I had started to direct, and it wasn't long before I also started to produce for myself, and my very first production was a newly written play called SEE MAMA by Edward Henry, and among the cast was non other than Stafford and there are two particular things I remember about Stafford in that play-- no, three things actually; first of all the set was very cleverly designed by Stafford, the type where you re-arrange all the different pieces each time to create a different scene location--small matter that one particular arrangement almost fell over on the audience one night; the front row people had to quickly stand and catch it--but nevertheless it was a very attractive, effective and workable set. So, that was the first thing, and then there was a moment each night when his character is supposed to weep, and Stafford used to cry real tears--everytime--I don't believe he missed once!
I am almost sure bets were being placed everynight as to whether the tears would flow or not, but they always did! and boy, did that impress everybody, including me--you know, that was like real acting! And then the 3rd thing was Stafford and the motorcycle. In the play, his character rode a motor cycle, a Quickie, I think they were called...so what did we do? We got Motor Sales & Service, who were the agents, to sponsor a Hondo Quickie on loan to the production, and every night Stafford made his entrance into the play by riding from a little distance down the road, right into the auditorium where he parked the bike--this was at the Barn Theatre--then he would disappear round the corner and then re-appear on stage to play his scene. Mind you, some nights the bike wouldn't start--but, we worked around it.
Well, when the production ended, we negotiated a deal with Motor Sales, and Stafford got to keep the little Honda and from that time on Stafford always rode a motorcycle--for years after--mind you, at first, him used to get couple drop well, and bruise up, but he eventually mastered the machine.
So this was 1972, and the very next year, I landed the job to direct a production of the comedy SWEET TALK by the Guyanese writer Michael Abbennsetts, which was about West Indians living in Shepherds Bush, London; and who was the lead actor, but my star performer, Stafford. This play now really started to stretch him, as it was his most substantial role to date, and he truly lived up to the challenge I can tell you. I am quite sure he found added inspiration playing opposite his extremely attractive leading lady.
Come the following year, this is 1974 now, I come across a Cuban play called THE CRIMINALS by Jose Triana, and decide to have a reading with Stafford, Hilary Nicholson, and Anna Hearne--a 3 hander. Well, it was an excellent script which would require some first class acting to pull off, but being the producer, I was very skeptical about mounting this piece, because we all knew that in spite of having the potential for providing theatre of the highest order, it just wasn't commercial stuff and would very likely lose money, so I said, "Guys, forget it!" But Stafford insisted that it was too esthetic a play not to take the risk of it being a flop, and to cut a long story short, he persuaded me to produce it; so, I produced it and directed it, and we had a nice short-ish little run, and in the end broke even. But if it wasn't for Stafford we would never have done that play, and for those who saw it, they would never have had the chance to experience theatre and acting of such high calibre and virtuosity!
Right after that, the same year, 1974, I was again hired to direct, this time a play, written and produced by Carmen Tipling called STRAIGHT MAN about illegal aliens in the USA, and again Stafford was the leading actor, and again produced some fine work along with Christine Bell and others.
Two years later, in 1976, Stafford wrote and produced his very first play, THE QUICKIE, which I had the privilege and pleasure to direct. I don't recall that he acted in this his first piece. The material was based on Stafford's by then acquired knowledge of the business world and the dishonesty and disadvantages that were oftentimes evident. Prior to this period, Stafford had had a taste of conducting a business himself, whereby he manufactured and supplied candy to shops in and around Kingston and on the outskirts. I know about this, because he still rode a motorcycle, which was inappropriate for making deliveries, and who did he call on with a car for assistance? yours truly, and not having either the interest or patience for such a chore, I really didn't relish the idea, but reluctantly obliged him, for after all, he was my buddy, and I did respect his acumen for business, and of course, Theatre wasn't always all that lucrative, was it now!
I don't recall Stafford the Candyman enduring for too long though, but he did go on to write and produce several other plays of far greater importance and scope, one of which I even performed in, called ANANCY & THE UNSUNG HEROES OUT WEST which was a Musical, and had a cast and crew of 25 to 30 members as I recall, and was staged at the Ward Theatre. Then there was MASQUERADERS, BAR JONAH, and FOREIGN MIND.
Stafford was hugely talented and truly dedicated to Jamaican Theatre; he was an important and major contributor, and should be remembered as such. It is my belief and hope that his work will be produced and performed for years to come.
Rest well, Buddy!
Jerome Ringo with Prof Chen at the US Embassy Seminar on Climate Change
Jamaica Observer | JEAN LOWRIE-CHIN | Monday, June 01, 2009
Five million dollars worth of escallion was destroyed by pests recently - a devastating blow to farmers in Flagaman, Pedro Plains and surrounding districts in St Elizabeth. "The prolonged drought period led to the death of spiders and wasps, which are some of the natural enemies of the pest," said RADA Senior Plant Specialist Marina Young in an RJR report, "which in turn triggered the infestation of the worms."
This took us back to a discussion on the environment hosted a few weeks ago by the US Embassy. UWI Professor A Anthony Chen walked us through data from the year 1000 to demonstrate the effects of global warming. Prof Chen is a member of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change whose work earned them the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. The prize was shared with former US Vice President Al Gore.
In a subsequent discussion with the concerned professor, who last year received one of our highest national honours, the Order of Merit, he noted that nature's delicate balance is easily affected by even a slight warming of our planet. "Using research done by epidemiologists," he said, "only a 2˚C increase in atmospheric temperature will increase dengue transmission threefold."
It is when we see global warming in the context of lost crops and dangerous diseases that we realise the importance of environmental protection. Studies over the years, since the Industrial Revolution in the 1880s, show that our increasing appetite for energy has generated man-made greenhouse gases.
These gases have such an extended life that even if we stabilise emissions from power plants and factories, motor vehicles and aircraft, temperatures will continue to rise. Some of the effects right here in the Caribbean are:
. sea level rise
. spread of diseases (like
. possibly more intense hurricanes
. water resource shortfall
. agricultural drought
. tourism downturn
. death, migration of fish to cooler waters
. endangered human settlement.
At the US Embassy seminar, Melinda Brown and Delroy Anthony "Crocus" Lamont from the Rock Tower Project, Bull Bay, described how a regular shower of rain now causes widespread flooding as a result of the extensive mining of gypsum in the area. Brown, an artist from New York, has been working with local artists in the area to create items from the gypsum which will help them to generate wealth while protecting the environment. Their work received solid affirmation recently when international art collector Francesca von Hapsburg visited their studios and bought all of their work.
We also viewed a moving video on Mocho entitled Mined and Left Behind and bought an interesting book on the subject, which we will explore in a later column.
Jerome Ringo, president of the US-based Apollo Alliance and climate change expert, challenged us to take charge of our future "in the name of getting off the oil barrel". He said that we had the opportunity to declare our energy independence as Brazil had done: "You have the sun, the wind, the ocean."
The inspiring activist warned that the impact of high energy costs may drive some households "to decide whether they will purchase gas or milk". Ringo wants us to admit that "I too breathe the air . and reactivate activism."
Prof Chen has a suggestion that should inspire our legislators and encourage more of us to go solar: net metering. This is how it works: if you have alternative sources of energy like solar panels or windmills, your electricity meter would go forward or back, depending on whether you are using your power, or the power generated by the utility company. As it now stands, companies who supply power to the grid have two meters and are credited US10 cents per kilowatt, but are debited US23 cents per kilowatt for the JPS supply. Prof Chen says he knows it cannot be the exact amount, but hopes that the rates will become more equitable as an added incentive for others to consider generating their own energy.
"Net metering has been used successfully in North America and Europe," says Prof Chen. "I believe it would be a very good thing for Jamaica and the region." Think of the quantum leap we could take in energy security if such a programme were introduced by Caricom! This would be a meaningful incentive for us to finally harness the abundance of power sources we have been blessed with - sun, wind and water, with the generous bonus of saving our environment.